Koh Samui left us more mixed than filled with incredible memories. Although a very beautiful island at the base, it has become in a few years a place so touristy that we must move away to not find hotels on each other, and beaches "worn". Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should not go there, just take the time to explore if you want to enjoy it !
Our experience was greatly spoiled by the hotel where we will never go back, and by the loss of all (yes all) papers Nils.
Nevertheless we don’t keep only bad memories, first, because we joined a couple of friends, but also, we managed to discover places still intact !
We had to stay a full week on the island and then visit a nearby island for the rest of the trip, but the unexpected administrative problems forced us to shorten a bit and returned to Bangkok to fix it as soon as possible.
A bit of history :
Discovered at the beginning of the 70's by backpackers who shared the island with a population living from fishing and coconuts, there were only huts ! It must be said that before 1940, there was no road or vehicle to move, people lived there simply, enjoying the white sand beaches. It was also difficult to get there !
Now, it's a different story : almost all roads are tarred, Koh Samui even has its own airport, and apart from tourists, the island has become today the sanctuary of French expatriates.
What to see and what to do in Koh Samui ? The inescapable :
Well yes, we are on an island ! The best known is Lamai Beach, where we stayed, but it’s not the most beautiful, but just the most touristy where the hotels are all side by side all along. Located next to the city center, the party goers leave behind a lot of garbage in the evening, fortunately the beach is cleaned daily.
As soon as you leave the center, the beaches become natural with a beautiful white sand, coconut trees and animals in freedom.
Swim in Na Muang Waterfall 2 :
Just arrived, we feel the tourist place : we are offered ride elephants (no thank you, we don’t appreciate beaten animals) or a photo with a tiger ( no thanks again, we don’t appreciate addicted animals ).
When we pass this (after we caressed an elephant to give him a little love), we arrive at a small path through the jungle offering a ride of 15 minutes.
Read also : The truth behind elephant rides
The route continues "climbing" stone and root, and wooden bridge, which may not be within the reach of everyone. It seems to me that there is another way for people with reduced mobility who want to go directly to the top of the waterfall.
From the moment we love the jungle and trudge everywhere (call me Mowgli), the ride is more than pleasant. We finally arrive at the famous waterfall, not very impressive to be honest, and better to like the greenish water. Nevertheless, we can swim and with the heat, it's good to cool off !
Rent a scooter
It's almost a must have if you want to explore Koh Samui and really enjoy it.
We hastened to rent one several days to move wherever we wanted. Thanks to this, we could finally enjoy the island discovering isolated and beautiful beaches, even small local restaurants with a superb view.
Practical information :
Price : Between 150 and 300 (4 and 8€) bahts for 24h.
Administrative : We were not asked for our license, but anyway we had the international license in case of arrest by the police. However, the tenant keeps the passport of at least one person.
Provide : Test the device before renting it and take pictures as proof of the condition of the vehicle. The slightest scratch is important, because some people fill up their pockets a little more, accusing you of causing damage to the device (and they have your passport as a hostage !).
Nightlife & Party :
Koh Samui has a very lively downtown where bar and restaurants are multiplying with offers always more advantageous.
You can easily find bars where buckets are at 2-3 €, ideal to share (?) with friends. Almost all these places offer different games to spend a nice time. There are different party levels depending on what you are looking for.
An unusual encounter with this dog, trained to buy his own food at the grocery store.
Eat some coconut :
Whether it's pure, for dessert, ice, or drink, it's almost impossible not to taste coconuts. And for good reason, Koh Samui is known to be called "coconut island", still today it sends more than 2 million coconuts a month in Bangkok.
The best way to eat it is the one we did : climb the coconut tree, and cut it yourself !
The loss of papers :
The absolute horror, the obsession of all travelers has arrived ! To Nils, but when you travel as a couple, well, you share the ordeals.
Each of us had these pockets to put under the t-shirt to avoid the theft, Nils had it on him one evening, and inside, he had everything : identity card, passport, credit card, vital card and French license : in short, all of it. So losing the wallet, he lost everything ! Needless to say, this has spoiled the stay. However, even if he thinks he lost it on the beach, right in front of our hotel, we think we ended up stealing it, because it should have been only a few meters from our bungalow and knowing that the beach is being cleaned every morning, minutely ... It seems more than suspicious that they have not found anything. Since there was some money in there, someone must have taken it because of it. Without charge, we have strong suspicions about someone in the hotel, because more disrespectful, it's impossible ! (We talk about it below)
So, we chained Facebook messages on groups on the island, back and forth on the beach and the consulate of Koh Samui.
After 2 days without change (we had instead directly opposed the credit card), we went to the local police to report the loss of papers. We found ourselves in front of a laughing policeman who insinuated that we had been stolen from a Lady Boy and that Nils and I spent some swingers parties. At first, we denied, and seeing that it was useless, we let sink knowing that it was better not to get on the authorities bad side. Of course, he asked us for money in exchange for the piece of paper. Corruption, hello !
In the end, our visa coming to the end, we had to act, and we went back to Bangkok to find a solution at the embassy. We were afraid of having to return to France, but in the end, Nils managed to have an emergency passport allowing us to continue our journey ! However, we slip New Caledonia into a future destination to remedy all this !
We don’t want this situation to anyone, even if we were not too stressed (it's not our style), it was still embarrassing and it disrupts a stay. So, we wrote a more complete article providing solutions to avoid this, or to remedy if this happens to you.
How long to stay in Koh Samui ? :
We had to stay a week with friends, so we shortened it for urgent administrative reasons. I repeat again, to appreciate Koh Samui, you really have to think outside the box, but even with that, I think we would have tried other islands around more unknown and small.
Where to stay in Koh Samui ? :
Remember that what follows is our own experience, if it is, we were just unlucky and others had to enjoy their stay, that's why we don’t advise against this hotel, but share everything that with you.
We stayed at the New Hut Bungalow (because our friends had already booked here for a while), on photo it looks pretty good : pretty colorful bungalows by the beach. Except that when we arrived, we saw that the reality was that the main road passed right behind the hotel and that the bungalows were all on top of each other (in addition to all the other hotel along the beach).
The accommodation offers different levels of bungalow with obviously different price ranges. We had opted for a bungalow with double bed, air conditioning and private bathroom.
We thought it was expensive for a simple bed and shower with a view of the front bungalow (but we were one meter from the beach, so I can’t be too grumpy) . However, throughout our stay, we faced a very unpleasant staff, the most striking example and while one evening we were the last at the hotel restaurant, they left by turning off the light ... a little disrespectful no ? To this, added that every morning, they cleaned the front of the bungalow there understood right in front of our door (they gave big blows in the doors and the walls with the broom). Hear a buzz between 6 am and 7 am when you want for once to sleep late doesn’t help to start the day. Many things like that happened and we were glad to left this hotel !
New Hut Bungalow
Website : New Hut Bungalow
Prix : For a double room with air conditioning and private bathroom: 15 €
Activities : Free wifi, directly on the beach, restaurant, close to all amenities.
How to come to Koh Samui ? :
Koh Samui is located in Southeast Thailand, can be reached by plane or boat. It’s by the latter that we went there.
We left Krabi, where we booked a bus + ferry package from an agency in town (you'll be spoiled for choice) which was the most advantageous.
We were given a small label stuck on our clothes to prove that we had paid well (I know it's like being in a summer camp) and go !
The bus takes the most common way : go to Surat Thani where ferries take you to the different islands.
On the boat, you can buy small things to drink and eat even if the best is to plan something to avoid paying more.
You will see people who pass through the travelers to offer a shuttle to the hotel, if at first we were skeptical, we ended up registering (our hotel was on the opposite side of the island) in view of the proposed affordable prices.
Practical information :
Price : The Bus + Ferry option from Krabi cost us 500 baht (12 €) per person.
Duration : 3 hours bus and 3 hours ferry (the boat was very slow compared to others).
For the return, in the urgency of the loss of Nils' papers, we booked a direct night bus to Bangkok, so we took the bus from Koh Samui, the latter boarded the ferry (we were on a bigger boat this time !) and once arrived on land we went back up on the same bus that took us to Bangkok during the night. This is a very practical solution, as always, if you want to kill two birds with one stone with accommodation and transport !
So much for the island of Koh Samui ! The really important advice to remember is to go exploring to get the most out of the tourist areas to fully enjoy the beauties of the island.
So, want to be "dépayser" in Koh Samui ?
The prices shown are the ones we had, you may encounter a difference (good or bad!) but at least it gives you an idea.